Something’s wrong with the Anaheim Ducks.
Saturday night in front of an announced 19,034 fans, the Wild dominated virtually every moment against an allegedly desperate opponent. A 30-15 shot advantage is evidence of that.
Yet remarkably, the Ducks were only down a goal halfway through when they began taking careless penalty after needless penalty after reckless penalty.
They took five in a row before the Wild took its first. Finally, Thomas Vanek provided the Wild a crucial two-goal lead, the Wild quickly struck a third time and the sputtering Ducks left town with a lackluster 3-0 defeat.
“It’s one of those games where we played well, we didn’t give up much, yet it’s 1-0,” Vanek said. “A lot of times those games can go the other way, so I think that second goal was huge.”
That’s now six losses in seven games for the preseason Stanley Cup-favorite darlings. The sport is fickle, so things can change with one big goal or one big win. But rumors are circulating that coach Bruce Boudreau is in trouble, and the Ducks have scored a startling six goals — none by Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler. They have been shut out four times, their total for 82 games last season.
The Ducks demonstrated their frustration throughout the second period when tempers boiled over. Getzlaf, their captain, took two penalties, including an undisciplined one on Ryan Carter. But the game turned when Patrick Maroon spent an entire TV timeout following Carter around like a shadow.
The officials got in between before the faceoff. After the faceoff, Maroon still wanted to fight Carter. With the Wild up 1-0, Carter smartly didn’t oblige. Instead, Maroon ran around the entire shift, and with the eyes of the refs on him he hauled down Chris Porter.
“They’re frustrated. I get it,” Carter said. “He’s just trying to do his job, give his team a spark. But the shots were 20-something to six at that point. When your team’s playing well, you don’t want to give the other team a spark.”
Three seconds after that fifth scoreless Wild power play expired, Vanek decided to shoot through a Nino Niederreiter screen when he spotted daylight over Frederik Andersen’s glove.
“I just went for it, and it worked out perfectly,” Vanek said of his fourth goal in seven games.
Carter then got the last laugh on Maroon. The 2007 Ducks Stanley Cup champ scored his first goal of the season and third career shorthanded goal off a nice setup from Justin Fontaine for a 3-0 lead.
Matt Dumba scored the winning goal for the Wild (the first goal this season by a Wild defenseman), Jared Spurgeon picked up his third and fourth assists in the past two games and Devan Dubnyk made 15 saves for his 15th career shutout as the Wild improved to 5-1-1 this season and 3-0 at home.
Dubnyk, who said he heard one of his knees “pop” during the second period but thinks it’s fine despite being “a little sore,” called the shutout “a team one, for sure.”
The Ducks, who had beaten the Wild in 10 of the past 11 meetings and last Sunday in Anaheim, snapped a six-game winning streak in Minnesota.
In Thursday’s win against Columbus, the Wild got off to its ugliest start of the season. That was not the case Saturday when the Wild was by far the better of the two teams.
The Ducks looked lifeless and barely generated scoring chances. Fourth-liner Shawn Horcoff did score, but that would have only counted in soccer and was erased after a short review.
The Wild rolled from there.
It’s taken seven games, but the Wild finally gave a complete, 60-minute effort.
“Good team win,” coach Mike Yeo said. “Now we get to forget about it really quickly and get ready for a tough game [Sunday in Winnipeg].”